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Stevens Point Fire Department combats PFAS with eco-friendly foam

Stevens Point, Wis. (WAOW) -- The State of Wisconsin recently released recommendations for the elimination of PFAS.

The City of Stevens Point Fire department began working towards a move away from these chemicals long before that.

Most humans are exposed to small amounts of chemicals known as PFAS daily. They occur in things like Teflon cookware, shampoo and conditioners, body deodorant, and fast-food wrappers.

First responders encounter it in the form of Class B firefighting foam.

"Class B foam has been used for many years, it's been around this department for many years," said. J.B. Moody, assistant fire chief.

Because PFAS don't decompose, they can linger in our soil and water, in some cases causing harmful health effects.

"When we started to learn about the potential dangers of PFAS, we took the lead," said Stevens Point Mayor Mike Wiza.

While the fire department has only used Class B foam five times in its history, the city wants to avoid any irreversible damages.

"Five times are five things you can't take back," Wiza said.

The city took action in April of 2020, making the switch to a friendlier foam that doesn't contain PFAS.

"That takes the fluorine substance actually out of the Class B foam," Moody said.

This allows them to handle flight flammable or aerosol liquids without any impact on the environment.

"I'm proud to say that we did that before it was mandated. I'm sure we saw the light at the end of the tunnel," Wiza said.

While cost was certainly a consideration when the issue was put before the council, Wiza said it was ultimately a no-brainer.

"What our priorities are as a city are doing what's right for the environment, for the community and for the planet," he said.

Officials are proud to have set the precedent for other area departments.

"To lead by example in the fire service and to promote being PFAS free and environmentally friendly," Moody said.

The department hopes to make the full transition to using PFAS-free foam soon.

Natalie Sopyla

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